Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3 Review (Xbox 360)

Game Review: Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3
Release: November 15, 2011
Genre: Fighting
Developer: Capcom
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PS Vita
Players: 1-2
MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: T

The fate of two worlds is at hand. Galactus hungers for both the Marvel and Capcom Earths, and nothing will stop him in his quest for nourishment. The previous 32 heroes and villains chosen to fight Galactus have held their own, but 16 new warriors might be able to turn the tide. Capcom has revamped the latest VS. series title with Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3, but is it worth the upgrade?

In the 1990s, Capcom started pitting their stable of Street Fighters versus those of other companies. Under the umbrella name of the “VS. Series”, they’ve gone toe-to-toe with SNK’s Kings of Fighters, the Tatsunoko Ultimate All-Stars, and Namco’s stable of heroes and villains on multiple occasions. The one company that started it all was particularly marvelous, and their battle has transcended consoles, legal issues, and age. Marvel VS. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, in concept, was an amazing thing; it brought back a franchise from the presumed legal limbo and dead and completely rebuilt it. Taking the concept of polygonal fighters on a 2D plane that Street Fighter IV had been so successful with, and completely revitalizing the cast? Characters such as Megaman who were once considered mainstays (he’s the mascot for Capcom, after all) were thrown out the window, much to players chagrin, for more battle-oriented franchise characters such as Zero. Some franchises made their first appearance in the title, such as Devil May Cry‘s Dante, while others were vastly reworked, completely changing Jill Valentine and adding Chris Redfield and Albert Wesker to the Resident Evil crew. The Marvel side of the cast caught up with the times; while Phoenix rose from the dead and the Sentinel unit stayed it’s classic Capcom self, Thor rose for battle for the first time alongside Wolverine’s female clone, X-23 and Hulk’s cousin She-Hulk.

Gameplay underwent a vast change as well. Controls were revamped, letting players have a light, medium, and hard attack, alongside a “pop-up” attack that sends enemies flying in the air for Aerial Combos. X-Factor, a once-per-round disposable utility, could quickly change a losing match to a winning one, depending on how players used it. Ultimate Marvel VS. Capcom 3 has kept all these elements, only tweaking them in areas that the average player wouldn’t notice, beyond a visual change. Hardcore players might notice and love or hate changes, but they’re here to stay.

The new characters have something to offer everyone. Nemesis T-Type has a move that people who played as Cable from Marvel VS. Capcom 2 will likely find and spam. Ghost Rider can keep opponents at a distance and still wreck them across the stage. Phoenix Wright is one of the more interesting additions to the game; like Rocket Raccoon, the character might be humorous, but there’s some likely depth to their play style. Strider Hiryu is back for classic fans, and Frank West surprisingly doesn’t play exactly as his Tatsunoko VS. Capcom iteration. Vergil, Nova, Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Firebrand, and Doctor Strange round out the crew. Some of them are easy to pick up (Hawkeye works well from a distance, obviously), some will require more play to deduce (why does Iron Fist’s constantly change colors? What’s with Strange’s relics he send out?), but all together, they’re a nicely varied addition. The new and revised levels offers some good eye candy, all with nods to their respective worlds (The “Days of Future Past” level has a poster recalling Uncanny X-Men but with characters lost to this game… and would look great on any wall… please make a poster, Capcom). The added content is largely inoffensive (someone will complain about the visual changes throughout the HUD, but it’s a HUD), but one wonders if this would have worked better akin to the Arcade Edition of Super Street Fighter IV; $20 download upgrade and $40 retail disc worked for both old and new players in the past, but the latter is the only route Capcom took this time.

There’s two camps when it comes to the changes and improvements to the game. Adding twelve new playable characters (and making Galactus playable, in an understandably limited form) is just mathematically improving the game; more characters mean more variety. It’s true that the characters really don’t have many equals in the game; comparisons can be made between some of them, but most of them are distinct. Still, characters such as Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath, who were downloadable characters for the first title, haven’t been rolled into the update; if you own the original DLC, you’ve got them, but you still need to purchase them if you skipped out on the original. Visually, while costumes do nothing to change actual gameplay (and in the case of the costumes being truly different characters, such as Iron Man becoming Iron Patriot, Nathan Spencer becoming Rad Spencer, Spider-Man becoming Scarlet Spider, Zero becoming X, etc.), purchasing all costumes amounts to $20 in a bundle that won’t come out until March. While retailers gave out certain packs during pre-ordering, content like this should have easily been unlockable, and would have greatly improved the replayability of the game. Beat Galactus on Hard as Taskmaster to unlock his UDON design? Sign me up. As a nit pick, Spider-Man has lost his “tech stealth” black and green suit from a recent storyline, replaced with the black and red variant of the same costume that the new Scarlet Spider wears. Adding new costumes is fine, but taking some out just hurts.

Another issue regarding DLC is the promised “Heroes and Heralds” mode. While they were smart and didn’t promise at launch release date, this free mode seems like it would have gone a long way towards improving the single player mode, which basically reduces to Arcade, Training, and Missions. Online multiplayer is the same affair from before, but previous stats acquired don’t translate over. In fact, the game doesn’t even remember your default teams, which would have been nice.

The character changes will have some up in arms, and some praising. New moves are around for some characters, and many of them are strengthened/weakened/modified. These are all in the interest of rebalancing the game more fairly, as tournaments always reveal when a character has strengths or weaknesses that weren’t prevalent during the production process.

If you skipped out on the previous version of this title, this game is a must-have for fighting game aficionados. It’s fun, it’s filled with characters and references for classic video game and comic book fans, and is a great game to pick up and play with friends. For those who did buy it’s original release, it’s shallow; unless you’re going to play as any of the new characters, there’s no real reason at the moment. “Heroes and Heralds” might give the game a good boost of change, but beyond a few tweaks, this is a title that would have been better released as a downloadable title upgrade than full retail release.

  • New characters offer a greater variety of gameplay
  • Truly substantial additions to game modes will be released down the road
  • Costume DLC doesn’t change gameplay and is overpriced for it’s utility

Final Score
7 out of 10

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